Warburtons fined £2m over worker’s mixing machine fall
Tuesday 24th January 2017
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Andrew Sears was cleaning a mixing machine on 11 November 2013 when he lost his footing. He sustained a spinal compression fracture and was unable to return to work until the end of the following year. He was dismissed in December 2015 after another long period of sick leave.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that Sears carried out this job as often as every few weeks. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Warburtons routinely expected employees to clean the mixers by accessing the top of them, though the workers felt unsafe doing so.
It found there was no adequate supervision on site and the family-owned business had failed to train its staff how to clean equipment at height.
Warburtons pleaded guilty to breaching reg 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations. It was fined and ordered to pay costs of over £19,600.
After the hearing HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey said: "This case highlights how important it is for companies to fully assess the risks from work activities at height and to take appropriate action to prevent injury in the workplace. Mr Sears' life has been changed forever but his injuries could have been more severe."
Manchester Crown Court was told that on 8 July 2015 three men were carrying out a routine task, changing refrigeration gas inside the chilled storage units. They were working in the roof void of the chilled store building above the units. The victim stood at the edge of the roof on a fragile fire board panel. The board gave way and he fell into the void between the chilled unit and the building shell. He sustained injuries to his head.
F. Brazil Reinforcements used overhead travelling cranes to lift and move large steel reinforcing cages at its site on Canvey Island, Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court was told. One of the cranes broke down on 10 June 2015 and welder Felix Trefas had to reset the controls, which were 6 m above the ground, while working the nightshift. As he was resetting the faulty crane, he came into contact with another overhead crane. His left leg was crushed and had to be amputated below the knee.
The mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) was owned by Craig Services and Access, which was managed by Donald Craig. He was found guilty of a charge under s 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act at Airdrie Sheriff Court and sentenced on 6 January after a 16-day trial. Craig had denied the allegations.His company was fined £61,000 for failing to ensure that operators were not exposed to the risk of injury or death, for failing to maintain the equipment, and for hiring out the cherry picker when it had not been certified as safe.
Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Dengie Crops, which grows and produces alfalfa for animal feed, contracted agricultural and construction machinery supplier Ernest Doe & Sons to renew a roof at its premises in Asheldham, Essex. However, Ernest Doe did not have the appropriate experience to carry out the work and subcontracted it to Balsham Buildings, a structural steel fabricator and cladding contractor. Balsham decided how the project should be carried out and subcontracted the replacement again to Strong Clad.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that a worker was repairing a printing, slotting and forming machine at Diamond Box’s factory in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. He put his foot onto an exposed conveyor and was dragged into the machine’s moving parts. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that Diamond Box allowed uncontrolled maintenance work without a risk assessment.
Maidstone Crown Court heard on 30 January that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had acted on a tip-off from an ex-employee and had visited the premises where electrical safety measures, machinery guarding and materials storage were found to be well below the expected standards.